Ty Eigner has worn the orange and brown of the Bowling Green Falcons in four different decades: as a player, as an assistant coach, and as a head coach.
Eigner has gone from the highs of playing in the NCAA tournament under future Hall of Fame coach Jerry York to the lows of fighting off the program’s relegation to a club sport as an assistant in 2010. Today he has the Falcons soaring toward the mountaintop once again, leading the nation in victories and rising to No. 5 in the national polls. When the Falcons beat Northern Michigan Saturday night, it marked the 1000th victory in program history, a proud milestone for the family of BGSU hockey. FloHockey’s Tim Rappleye caught up with Eigner in the wake of a much-deserved celebration.
FloHockey: Hey coach, I can’t help noticing all the big names in hockey chiming in with testimonials about BGSU hockey getting around on social media.
EIGNER: Well, it’s not every day you get to 1,000 wins.
You’ve been around for 300 of those 1000 wins — as a player, assistant, and head coach. Have you had time to digest it all?
Yeah, obviously Saturday night was pretty special, and the picture at the end, and all the stuff that went with it was kind of spontaneous, because you can’t really plan ahead for something like that.
When it’s going on you think wow, like we said to the players, chances are the next time we celebrate a milestone victory around here it will be 1,500, and the chance of me being around here as a head coach is probably pretty slim. Maybe there will be a player on the team now who in coaching, and they’ll be the guy behind the bench and on staff, and we’ll all come back and celebrate with them.
But we just felt like it was a really cool thing. A chance to sit back and think about what it means to our program, and what Bowling Green hockey has meant to this university and this community. It’s really cool.
We’ve had a program for just over 50 years, so that’s nearly averaging 20 wins a year over the course of 50 years, which is a pretty cool accomplishment.
When you arrived as an assistant in 2010, the program was on life support. It must be gratifying to be at the helm as it seems pretty healthy right now.
No question. Just over a decade ago, it was a program that was kind of . . . who knew what the next step was? Fortunately for everybody involved at the time, the administration made the decision to support our hockey program, and committed to it, and after a national search, coach Bergeron came in with a plan. All we’ve tried to do since that first day was to execute the plan. Now there’s a different guy sitting in the head coach’s office. The plan, and the standard, and the goals haven’t changed at all.
When I was fortunate to come here in the fall of 1988 as a player, it was a program that had won a national championship in 1984 and had been in four or five straight NCAA tournaments, and that was the standard. It had a bunch of guys playing in the National Hockey League, a head coach in Jerry York, assistant coaches Buddy Powers, Terry Flanagan, Wayne Wilson. Everybody in college hockey understood it was a legitimate program that was competing at the time for CCHA titles, CCHA playoff championships, and getting in the national tournament with an opportunity to potentially win one.
So, to be able to be back here, and have our program be in that conversation is, I’ve said it a bunch, really humbling for me. Everybody around here associated with this program believes that’s exactly where we belong.
Tim Rappleye is the author of two books: Jack Parker's Wiseguys and Hobey Baker, Upon Further Review. You can find him on Twitter.